Ardito Ramadhan, Jakarta – Paramadina University political observer Ahmad Khoirul Umam says that the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) General Chairperson and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto's goodwill safari (safari silaturahmi) on Idul Fitri 1443 H this year was ridden with political nuance.
"Prabowo's Lebaran [holiday] silaturahmi appears pregnant with political nuance and motivations and ridden with [political] interests", Umam told Kompas.com on Friday May 6.
According to Umam, the people Prabowo visited are the cornerstones of big political power, both at the level of the political party elite as well as figures who are influential in social and religious terms among the grassroots.
On Monday April 3, the first day of the Lebaran holidays following the Ramadan fasting month, Prabowo met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) General Chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Umam said that Widodo and Megawati are the cornerstones of big political power in terms of authority and political party rule.
"These cornerstones are very advantageous and decisive for him to use as political instruments in order to establish a basis for a PDI-P-Gerindra coalition, as an anchor of support for a Prabowo-Puan [presidential ticket]", said Umam referring Megawati's daughter and senior PDI-P politician Puan Maharani.
In addition to this, Prabowo also wants to get closer to figures who have social and religious influence, especially those who have a strong influence over the nahdliyin – the grassroots membership of the country's largest Islamic mass organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).
According to Umam, this is reflected by Prabowo's goodwill meetings with senior kiai (Islamic teachers) and visiting the grave of Indonesia's fourth president and former NU figure Abdurrahman Wahid alias Gus Dur.
"This move is part of Prabowo's political strategy of washing his hands of the political record of the 2014 presidential elections, the 2017 Jakarta regional elections and the 2019 presidential election, where his [campaign] team was seen as quite intensely using a strategy of exploiting identity politics", said Umam.
Umam explained that this strategy resulted in consolidating support from conservative Islamic forces on the one hand but strengthening political resistance among the nahdliyin on the other hand.
"Now, after Prabowo has become one of Jokowi's ministers, and in concert with the growing disappointment of [conservative] Islamic groups with his political choices, Prabowo wants to improve his relationship with nahdliyin forces", said Umam.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Safari Silaturahmi Prabowo Saat Lebaran Dinilai Kental Nuansa Politik".]